Category Archives: career change

Career Portfolio – Interview Secret Sauce

I have a friend who is a self-employed consultant.  A few years ago, over coffee, she complained that she would not have a clue as to where to start if she wanted to get a “real job”.

I suggested that she create a portfolio.  She thought portfolios were only for artists or other creative types.  Not so.

A portfolio (fancy binder with plastic sleeves and dividers) is an excellent vehicle for organizing and presenting your experience.  It can have sections that show your work, education and other credentials, volunteer activities, hobbies, thank you notes, awards and really, anything else that is relevant to the way that you do what you do.

Just the act of gathering the information together and putting it all in one place can be a pretty powerful exercise.  It’s something that you can do over a couple of weekends and then add/change revise every year.

My friend took that suggestion to heart and created what she called a career scrapbook. She had it in her car for a while and then it took up its place on a shelf in her office.

Last week she applied for an actual job and found herself staring down the barrel of an interview.  Not just any interview but a panel interview in a formal, government type organization.  She dusted off her portfolio, added a couple of items, reviewed the rest of the material and then focused on her outfit.  She felt confident and ready.  (I should point out that she was eminently qualified for the job.)

At the end of the interview, she was asked if she had any questions.  All of hers had been covered in the discussion but she told the panel members that she had brought her portfolio and asked if there was anything they would like to see.  The senior person raised her eyebrows and came over to have a look.

She looked at the table of contents, saw the “Thank You” section and flipped right to that part.   She nodded and smiled as she read the cards, notes and emails.  It turns out that the adjudicator actually knew two of the people who had sent notes and that lead to a much less formal conversation where my friend got one more opportunity to show what she knows and why she has been so successful.

She left the interview, with her portfolio tucked under her arm, feeling very good about herself and her experience.  No offer yet……..but I’ll keep you posted.

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Filed under career change, Interview, Job Search, Resume

Explore the Unexplored – Find the Best Careers

I am at a conference in Ottawa this week.  Not just any conference but the annual meeting of the Canadian Nuclear Association.

When I tell that to people, I get a blank look in return.  Completely blank.

This is a not small meeting.  There are 900 delegates from across Canada and likely more post graduate degrees per square inch than anywhere outside a university campus.

These people are not just involved in generating power but also mining, food processing, nuclear medicine and more.  And it’s not just engineers.  The nuclear industry directly employs 80,000 people in Canada.  They are responsible for powering many of your laptops and proving the isotopes for your MRIs.

Yesterday was student day and we presented a resume workshop to more than 100 students from across Canada.  Many of them had to compete for a spot on the team that came from their university.  They came to rub shoulders with the movers and shakers in the industry. They have a very bright future.

So, here is an industry that is responsible for putting five billion dollars (yes, billion) into our economy and yet people don’t consider it as a career possibility.

How many other industries are out there under people’s radar?

If you are looking for something new to do, you have to stretch your horizon.  It may be lovely to work for a Fortune 500 company but there are so many other interesting, stable, well-paying options.

How do you find these out about these industries?  Stop where you are right now.  Identify six things that are in your immediate area.  Where do they come from?  Who made them?  Where did they get developed?  That’s a good way to start.

For example, there is a banana beside my computer.  It took a bunch of people involved in farming, logistics, transportation, export, inspection and distribution to get it to me.

Could I work in one of those industries?  I don’t know but I think it’s time to find out.

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Networking 101- Know What you Want

Last week was super interesting. I met a bunch of new people and went to some neat events.  I learned a lot of new information and while it was fun (and just a bit glamorous), I am not sure anything else will come of it.

I am at a point in my life where, if I am doing a “business” thing, it had better result in some value.  I am not expecting every lunch to bring me a million dollars but it should at least give me a new connection or gem of info that I can leverage into something of value.

My lunch date on Thursday helped me understand this.  He said that he is often approached to help out someone from his alma mater or a former colleague.  His door is always open but he finds it frustrating when people are not clear what they want or need from him.

He said that if he is going invest time, then there needs to be something he can actually do for the person. He said these encounters are best when the person says “Thanks for spending some time with me.  I am here at point A and in order to get to point B, I need an introduction to this person who is between me and point B. Can you help with that?”

That direction allows him to agree to the intro and to put some context and advice around it.  Everyone walks away feeling good.

See?  No commercial value there but there is the satisfaction of knowing that you helped in a concrete fashion.

That lightning bolt made me realize that I need to spend time planning what I want from an event/conversation/meeting.  This week, I have prepared for each of my meetings by using his formula.

I am at point A and I want to get to point B.  You can help me by doing this and/or this.

Of course, the conversation covers more ground, but I am work hard to keep my goal/outcome in mind as we meander through the civilities and humour and interruptions.

What strategies do you use to get what you need?

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Filed under career change, Networking

How to Talk Compensation with a Recruiter

No one likes to talk about salary. It has this mystical kind of voodoo quality. No one wants to give the wrong answer. It can become a game of who goes first and the real objective can get lost.

It is really not that complicated. Money is just one of the things that have to align for you to be considered a “fit”. If you are already making $100,000 more than the position pays, then the fit is not there. If you are way below the salary range, that does not fit either.

But this is not entirely about the money. It’s also about the risk and the culture.

Say you absolutely love a role so much that you would take a serious pay cut to have it on your resume. Sometimes this can work (and might be necessary) when you are taking a sharp turn on your career path. If you are a corporate lawyer and you want to leave that world to do more human focused work with a better life balance then this would be credible and might be considered.

But here’s the risk: six months in, when the honeymoon is over and you have are driving home after a bad day, you are really going to feel that haircut and suddenly, your job will not seem as great as it did before. You will start to question your decision and that could have a negative impact on your work and life.

Here’s the other thing to consider: not all managers can handle knowing that one of their team members made a lot more money in their last role. It can create all kinds of negative vibes and really mess up a team.

So when money is the topic, be candid and clear about what you are used to and what you are looking for. Don’t try to get away with “Oh, it doesn’t matter” or “We can discuss it at an alternate time”. There is nothing worse than falling in love with an opportunity only to have the whole thing fall apart at the end because the salary is not appropriate for you.

So spill the beans. It is the only way they can be counted.

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Filed under career change, Interview, Job Search, recruiter, Uncategorized

The Myth of the Forever Job

Let me just put this out there:  there is no such thing as a forever job.  Too many people, candidates and hiring managers alike keep talking about this idea.

Candidates tell me that they are looking for their last job until they retire.  They want to settle in and have stability.

Hiring managers are rejecting candidates because they might not stay in a role for five or more years.

Get your head out of the sand, people.

The world is changing and so is work.  The Canadian work landscape changed dramatically just last week and there is more change ahead. Can we predict it?  Not really.

In realistic terms, we should not be looking for a job or an employee for life. We are looking for a role where we can learn, grow, develop and contribute while we earn a living.  That’s about what it boils down to.

When you are examining your job prospects, these are the factors to consider:

  • Is there room for you to expand your skills?
  • Are there opportunities to move into other roles?
  • Will your contribution add value to the company?
  • Will that value be a point of pride for you?

Hiring a managers need to consider the same factors.

  • Can this person grow beyond the role they are hired for?
  • Will they add value on day one, day thirty and day ninety?
  • Will you be proud to take the credit for hiring them?

We need to stop looking at five to ten year employment windows. Think about what you were doing ten years ago. Could you have predicted that people would be earning tons of money developing ipad apps in their basements?  Or blogging about their dogs?

Keep your eyes on the horizon and your resume ready because you never know what’s around the corner.

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Career Heroes – Sallie Krawcheck

I just read a really fantastic interview with Sallie Krawcheck the founder of Ellevest.  She has been recognized as an icon but I think there are some really good lessons for regular people in regular jobs too.

Prior to creating Ellevest, a company that encourages women to get educated and participate in the investment market, she was fired TWICE and each time, it was splashed all over the Wall Street News.

She left her small town to go to New York City to start her career in finance but for the first eight years, she felt like she was floundering. She said it took quite a while for her find her way to doing analysis and research where she found her niche.  When asked why she stuck with it, she said that she was never going to go back home and tell everyone that it just did not “work out”.

When she found herself between jobs, she said her energy was fueled by anger and determination.  She told herself to move on.  She said that there are a thousand opportunities for success every week, every day, every month.  That’s a lot of drive.

You can read the full article here – it’s got a lot of good juicy bits – including how spending time with her kids actually added value to her role as opposed to being a distraction.  You can find more about Sallie on Twitter and LinkedIn.

 

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Filed under career change, Job Search, linkedin

Humour in the Interview – Tread Lightly

I had a good discussion with one of my friends this week about using humour at work, especially when you are new in a group or organization.  That got me thinking about humour in an interview setting.

An interview is like a first date.  You are listening and answering to see if there is a fit, to see if you get along.  Do you relate to the same things?  Do you share a common language or way of speaking?

There certainly can be some shared laughter in that kind of conversation but be careful it’s not nervous humour.  High pitched giggles and bathroom humour are definitely out.

If you are going to say something that you think is funny, check first – is it respectful and professional?  There is definitely no room for sarcasm in an interview.  Even if the hiring manager seems to be okay with it or throwing out some barbs, don’t do it.  Sarcasm is mean and even if it’s delivered in a funny way, it can still hurt someone’s feelings.

If the interviewer says something that’s funny to you, check their face before you burst out laughing.  If their eyes and mouth are not warm and smiling, perhaps it is not funny to them.  Definitely avoid laughing if they are not laughing.  This can be very awkward.

So tread carefully and pay attention.

And disregard this whole thing if you are interviewing at a Comedy Club.

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Filed under career change, Interview